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The Narrative of Bethany Veney 


With Introduction by Rev. Bishop MALLALIEU, 

Commendatory Notices from Rev. V. A. COOPER, Superintendent of Home 
for Little Wanderers, Boston, Mass., 

Rev. ERASTUS SPAULDING, Millbury, Mass. 



Press of Geo. H. Ellis, 141 Franklin Street, Boston. 


There have been many histories written, but they do not tell a thousandth 
part of what has been done in the ages past. The unwritten histories would 
fill the world. It is so with biographies : many have been written, but unnum- 
bered millions have found no record outside of throbbing hearts. If we could 
know perfectly the inner life of almost any person ; if we could only know the 
hopes and fears and loves and heartaches ; if we could only know the conflicts, 
the defeats, the victories of the soul, — we should see that the humblest and 
most uneventful life is more thrillingly wonderful than any romance that was 
ever written. All this is emphatically true of thousands upon thousands born 
and reared in slavery. 

It was the lot of the subject of this brief biography to have been born in the 
same State as Washington the savior of his country, as Jefferson the author of 
the Declaration of Independence, and as Patrick Henry the sublime orator 
of freedom ; and yet she was born a slave. She was born in a commonwealth 
that was nominally Christian, and yet she was born a slave. She was born in 
a land of Bibles and sanctuaries and Sabbaths, and yet she was born a slave. 
Let all the people everywhere in all our borders thank God that the shame and 
sin and curse of slavery have been done away. Betty Veney may have been born 
a slave, but the pure soul that looked out of her flashing eyes was never in 
bondage to any miserable being calling himself her master. Redeemed from 
the galling yoke her body was compelled for years to wear, she has lived a pure 
and spotless life. Though poor and unknown among men, the angels of God 
have camped around her for, lo ! these many years ; and she has been able, by 
the abounding grace of God, to walk the rough and dusty paths of a toilsome 
life with garments spotless and wrinkleless. 

The day is coming when slaveholders and their descendants will no more 
think of boasting of the fact, or even mentioning it, than the grandchildren of 
the slave-stealers and pirates of Newport, and other Northern seaports, now 
think of priding themselves on the unspeakable villany of their ancestors. In 
the mean time, the biographies of saintly, enduring spirits like that of Betty 
Veney will be read, and will serve to inspire the discouraged and down-trodden 
to put their trust in the almighty arm of Jehovah, who alone works deliverance 
and salvation to all those who put their trust in him. 


New Orleans, La., Jan. 30, 1889. 


This little book, now offered to the many kind friends of 
Bethany Veney, contains the simple story of one of the five 
millions of human beings who, less than thirty years ago, were 
bought and sold like beasts of burden, in fifteen out of thirty-two, 
States of our American Republic. 

Already, this fact in our national history is largely overlooked, 
and to the generation now coming upon the stage of action is 
almost unknown. 

Compared with the lives of many of her class, Betty's was 
uneventful. Yet in it was much of tragic adventure and tender 
pathos. Her endurance under hardship, her fidelity to trust, and, 
withal, her religious faith, commend her as a fit subject, not only 
to impress the lesson of slavery in the past, but to inspire and 
deepen a sense of responsibility toward the wronged and perse- 
cuted race which she represents. 

Beyond these considerations is this : her days have already far 
outrun the allotted threescore years and ten, and her natural 
strength is much abated. If sold, these pages may help to render 
her declining years easier and freer from care. 

It is greatly to be regretted that the language and personal 
characteristics of Bethany cannot be transcribed. The little par- 
ticulars that give coloring and point, tone and expression, are 
largely lost. Only the outline can be given. As it is, possessing 
only the merit of a "plain, unvarnished tale," it asks for generous 
consideration and extended sale. 

M. W. G. 

East Greenwich, R.I., 1889. 

Aunt Betty's Story. 




I have but little recollection of my very early life. My 
mother and her five children were owned by one James 
Fletcher, Pass Run, town of Luray, Page County, Virginia. 
Of my father I know nothing. 

The first thing I remember with any distinctness was when, 
about seven years old, I was, with other children, knocking 
apples from a tree, when we were surprised by my young 
mistress, Miss Nasenath Fletcher, calling to us, in a loud and 
threatening tone, demanding what we were doing. Without 
waiting for reply, she told us to follow her ; and, as she led 
the way down to a blackberry pasture not far off, she en- 
deavored, in a very solemn manner, to impress us with the 
importance of always telling the truth. " If asked a ques- 
tion," she said, "we must answer directly, yes or no." I 
asked her " what we must say if asked something which we 
did not know." She answered, " Why, you must say you 
don't know, of course." I said, "I shall say, 'Maybe 'tis, 
and maybe 'tain't.' " I remember well how the children 
laughed at this ; and then Miss Nasenath went on to tell us 
that some time all this world that we saw would be burned up, 

8 aunt betty's story 

— that the moon would be turned into blood, the stars would 
fall out of the sky, and everything would melt away with a 
great heat, and that everybody, every little child that had 
told a lie, would be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone, and 
would burn there for ever and ever, and, what was more, 
though they should burn for ever and ever, they would never 
be burned up. 

I was dreadfully frightened ; and, as soon as I could get 
away, I ran to my mammy, and, repeating what mistress had 
said, begged to know if it could be true. To my great sorrow, 
she confirmed it all, but added what Miss Nasenath had 
failed to do ; namely, that those who told the truth and were 
good would always have everything they should want. It 
seemed to me then there was nothing so good as molasses 
and sugar ; and I eagerly asked, " Shall I have all the mo- 
lasses and sugar I want, if I tell the truth ? " " Yes," she 
replied, " if you are good ; but remember, if you tell lies, 
you will be burned in the lake that burns for ever and ever." 

This made a very strong impression upon me. I can 
never forget my mammy's manner at the time. I believed 
every word she said, and from that day to this I have never 
doubted its truth. 

Though my conception of what constituted the truth was 
very dim, my fear of what should befall me, if I were to tell 
a lie, was very great. Still, I was only a young child, and 
could not, long at a time, be very unhappy. 

My old master, who at times was inclined to be jolly, had 
a way of entertaining his friends by my singing and dancing. 
Supper over, he would call me into his room, and, giving 
me to understand what he wanted of me, I would, with all 
manner of grotesque grimaces, gestures, and positions, dance 
and sing : — 


" Where are you going, Jim ? 
Where are you going, Sam ? 
To get a proper laming, 
To jump Jim Crow." 

" David the king was grievit and worrit, 
He went to his chamber — 
His chamber and weppit ; 
And, as he went, he weppit and said, 
' O my son, O my son ! 

Would to God I had died 
For thee, O Absalom, 
My son, my son,' " — 

and many other similar songs, of the meaning of which I 
had of course no idea, and I have since thought neither he 
nor his friends could have had any more than I. 




The next thing I recall as being of any particular impor- 
tance to me was the death of my mother, and, soon after, 
that of Master Fletcher. I must have been about nine 
years old at that time. 

Master's children consisted of five daughters and two sons. 
As usual in such cases, an inventory was taken of his prop- 
erty (all of which nearly was in slaves), and, being appor- 
tioned in shares, lots were drawn, and, as might chance, we 
fell to our several masters and mistresses. 

My sister Matilda and myself were drawn by the eldest 
daughter, Miss Lucy. My grandmother had begged hard to 
be reckoned with me, but she and Uncle Peter fell to Miss 
Nasenath ; but as after a time she married David Kibbler, 
and Miss Lucy went to live with them, taking her human 
property with her, to wait on her, and also to work for Mr. 
Kibbler, we were brought together again. In the mean 
time, I was put out with an old woman, who gave me my 
food and clothes for whatever work I could do for her. She 
was kind to me, as I then counted kindness, never whipping 
me or starving me; but it was not what a free-born white 
child would have found comforting or needful. 

Going into the family of David Kibbler as I did with my 
mistress, I was really under his direction and subject to his 

aunt betty's story ii 

control, almost as much as if he and not Miss Lucy had 
owned me. 

Master Kibbler was a Dutchman, — a man of most violent 
temper, ready to fight anything or anybody who resisted his 
authority or in any way crossed his path. His one redeem- 
ing quality was his love for his horses and dogs. These 
must be fed before his servants, and their comfort and health 
always considered. He was a blacksmith by trade, and 
would have me hold his irons while he worked them. I was 
awkward one day, and he struck me with a nail-rod, making 
me so lame my mistress noticed it, and asked Matilda what 
was the matter with me ; and, when she was told, she was 
greatly troubled, and as I suppose spoke to Kibbler about it, 
for he called me to him, and bade me go a long way off into 
a field, and, as he said, cut some sprouts there. But he very 
soon followed me, and, cutting a rod, beat me severely, and 
then told me to "go again and tell my mistress that he had 
hit me with a nail-rod, if I wanted to." 

Poor Miss Lucy ! She was kind and tender-hearted. 
She often said she hated slavery, and wanted nothing to do 
with it ; but she could see no way out of it. 

It will give a clearer idea of the kind of a man Kibbler 
was, and the way I grew to manage with him, if I tell 
here a circumstance that happened after I had grown much 
older and stronger. I had been in the field a good ways 
from the house, helping him to haul logs. Our work was 
done, and he had mounted the team to go home, and the 
bars were let down for him to pass out, when a drove of 
hogs ran in to get the clover that was growing in a part of 
the field. He called to me to drive out the hogs. I clapped 
my hands together, and shouted, " Shoo ! shoo ! " This fright- 
ened the horses, and Kibbler was unable to control them ; 


and, rushing through the gateway, the team hit the side 
post, tearing it up from its place. Of course, all this made 
him very angry ; and, of course, I was to blame for it all. 
As soon as he could hold the horses, he turned, and shouted 
to me to drive out the hogs, set the post into the ground, 
and get back to the house by the time he did, or he would 
whip me so I would remember it. 

A big boy who had been hauling the logs with us now 
helped me drive out the hogs and plant the post. We hur- 
ried with all our might, and then tried to run home ; but, by 
the time we got out of the woods, we saw master so far 
ahead of us I knew it was no use to try, and I said I would 
risk the whipping and not run any longer. So, when we 
came up to the house, master was sitting in his chair by the 
window; and, as I passed into the room near him, he handed 
me his jack-knife, and said, " Now, girl, go cut me a good 
hickory, — a good one, mind you ; for, if I have to cut it 
myself, I'll get a hard one, you may be sure." I took the 
knife, passed through the kitchen to the back door, just 
beside which was a little shelf where the pails of water just 
filled from the spring were standing. I laid the knife on 
the shelf, and passed out the door, and ran for the woods 
and the mountain. By the time I reached the woods, it 
began to rain, and poured fearfully all the night. I crowded 
my head under the alder bushes, while my shoulders and 
body were dripping wet. All night I crouched in this way ; 
and, when morning came, I was afraid to show myself, and 
all day kept concealed by the trees and bushes as best I 
could. As night came on, I was very hungry, having eaten 
nothing for more than thirty-six hours ; and so I decided to 
go down the mountain where old Kibbler, my master's 
father, lived, knowing that he would give me something to 


satisfy my hunger. As I drew nigh the house, the dogs 
barked ; and I was afraid to encounter them, and so laid out 
all night on the side of the hill. In the morning, — it was 
Sunday, — I ventured near the house; and the old man, 
seeing me, came out and gave me " How-dye," and asked 
how the home folks were. I told him I had not seen them 
since Friday, and added the reason for my running away, 
to which he listened, and then said, "Well, what are you 
going to do about it ? " I said, " Won't you, Masser Kibbler, 
go home with me, and tell Masser David he mustn't whip 

I don't know how I dared to say this, for to his own slaves 
he was a hard, ugly man ; but he gave me something to eat, 
then went home with me, and, after repeating my story to 
Master David, asked him if that was true, and added, " Then 
you have no right to whip her." And that was the end 
of it. 

I must go back here to my mistress and her wish not to 
hold slaves. A gentleman from Ohio was visiting in the 
neighborhood ; and Miss Lucy, knowing he was from a free 
State, asked him if he would not take me North with him. 
He very readily consented, promising to do the best he 
could for me ; but, when Master David and others heard 
about it, they said it was a foolish thing to do, for this man 
would very likely sell me before he left the South, and put 
the money into his own pocket, and I should find myself 
worse off than ever. It was true that many Northern men 
came South very bitter in their opposition to slavery, and 
after a little while came to be the hardest and most cruel 

I have sometimes tried to picture what my life might have 
been could I have been set free at that age ; and I have 


imagined myself with a young girl's ambition, working hard 
and carefully saving my earnings, then getting a little home 
with garden, where I could plant the kind of things I had 
known in the South, then bringing my sisters and brothers 
to share with me these blessings of freedom. But I had yet 
to know far deeper sorrows before I could have any of this 
glad experience. 

Miss Lucy now told me, if I would be contented and stay 
quietly where I was, and not be married, she would, when 
her nephew Noe came to be of age, give me my freedom. 
Instead of this, however, I was told soon after that she had 
made her will, bequeathing me already to this nephew. I 
was never sure this was true. Her kindness to me and my 
love for her made it always seem impossible. 



I come now to a phase in my experience which aroused the 
impressions made upon me so long before in the blackberry- 

At Powell's Fort, not far from where I now lived, was the 
Mount Asa school-house, where the different religious de- 
nominations held their meetings. My master's brother, 
Jerry Kibbler, and his sister Sally had been to a camp- 
meeting, and got "religion." They came home determined 
their religion should help others ; and, through their in- 
fluence, this little school-house had been fitted up with 
pulpit and seats, and now there was to be a series of revival 
meetings held there. I had never been to any kind of a 
meeting since I was a little girl, and then my mistress had 
sometimes taken me along for company. 

At this time, Miss Ellen Mills was spinning wool at Mr. 
Jonathan Grandstaff's ; and one night, as it was growing 
dusk, she came down to master's, to see if some of the 
family would go to meeting with her. No one cared to go ; 
and Miss Lucy, turning to me, said : "There is Betty. Take 
Betty. She will be company for you." So I went. The 
minister was preaching when we entered ; and I have no 
recollection of anything he said in his sermon, but, when he 
took his seat, he sang the hymn, — 

1 6 aunt betty's story 

" Then let this feeble body fail, 

Or let it faint or die, 
My soul shall quit this mournful vale, 

And soar to worlds on high, 
Shall join those distant saints, 

And find its long-sought rest." 

It was a hymn of many verses (I afterwards got an old 
woman to teach them to me) ; and there was such tender 
ness in his voice and such solemnity in his manner that I 
was greatly affected. When the singing was over, he 
moved about among the congregation ; and, coming close 
to me, he said, " Girl, don't you want religion ? don't you 
want to be happy when you die ? " Then he asked me to 
promise him that, when I got home, I would go upon my 
knees and ask God to give me the witness that I was his. 
I made him no answer; but, as soon as I reached home and 
was alone, I knelt down, and in my feeble and ignorant way 
begged to be saved. From that day to this, I have been 
praying and trying to do as I thought my heavenly Master 
has required of me; and I think I have had the witness of 
the Spirit. 

So, night after night, I went to the little school-house, 
and had many precious seasons. Master Jerry and Miss 
Sally were very kind to me, and tried to show me the way to 
be a Christian. 

But there came a time when Master David said he was 
not going to have me running to meeting all the time any 
longer. He had decided to send me up to old Mr. Levers, 
two miles away, there to stay until I should get over my 
"religious fever," as he called it. Accordingly, I went as 
directed ; but, when it came night, I asked if I might go 
down to Mount Asa school-house for meeting. The old 


man said : " Yes. You can go ; and, as it is so far away, you 
need not come back here till morning. But go home, and 
stay with the children, as you always do, and have the care 
of them." I couldn't understand it, but I went; and, when 
in the morning Kibbler saw me, he scolded, and sent me off 
to Levers again. Every night, old Mr. Levers would tell me 
I could go ; and I did, till, in the middle of the meeting one 
night, Master Kibbler came up to me, and, taking me by the 
arm, carried me out, scolding and fuming, declaring that old 
Webster (the minister) was a liar, and that for himself he 
didn't want such a " whoopin' and hollerin' religion," and, if 
that was the way to heaven, he didn't " want to go there." 
After this, my conscience troubled me very much about 
going. Mr. Levers would tell me to go ; but I knew that 
Master David had forbidden me to do so. One night, I 
started out, and, as I came to a persimmon-tree, I felt moved 
to go down on my knees and ask the Lord to help me, and 
make Master David willing. In a few minutes, I felt very 
happy. I wanted to remain on my knees, and wished I could 
walk on them till I could come before Master David. I tried 
to do so, and was almost surprised to find I could get along 
so well. At last, I reached the piazza, and was able to enter 
the room, where I saw him sitting ; and, as I did so, I said, 
" O Master, may I go to meeting ? " He saw my position ; 
and, as if "rent by the Spirit," he cried out : " Well, I'll go to 
the devil if you ain't my match ! Yes : go to meeting, and 
stay there." 

After this, I had no trouble from this cause. When I was 
to be taken into the church, I asked him if he was willing, 
and he said : " I don't care. If that's your way of getting 
to heaven, I don't care. I only wish you were all there." 
So I was baptized, and have been trying, in my poor way 
ever since to serve the Lord. 




Year after year rolled on. Master Jonas Mannyfield 
lived seven miles from us, on the other side of the Blue 
Ridge ; and he owned a likely young fellow called Jerry. 
We had always known each other, and now he wanted to 
marry me. Our masters were both willing ; and there was 
nothing to hinder, except that there was no minister about 
there to marry us. " No matter for that," Kibbler said to 
Jerry. " If you want Bett, and she wants you, that's the 
whole of it." But I didn't think so. I said, " No : never 
till somebody comes along who can marry us." So it hap- 
pened, one day, there was a colored man — a pedler, with 
his cart — on the road, and Jerry brought him in, and said he 
was ready to be minister for us. He asked us a few ques- 
tions, which we answered in a satisfactory manner, and then 
he declared us husband and wife. I did not want him to 
make us promise that we would always be true to each other, 
forsaking all others, as the white people do in their marriage 
service, because I knew that at any time our masters could 
compel us to break such a promise ; and I had never for- 
gotten the lesson learned, so many years before, in the 
blackberry pasture. 

So Jerry and I were happy as, under all the circumstances, 
we could well be. When he asked his master's consent to 
our marriage, he told him he had had thoughts of removing 


to Missouri, in which case he should take him with him, and 
we would have to be separated ; but, if he chose to run the 
risk, he had nothing to say. Jerry did not think there was 
any danger, and we were not dissuaded ; for hearts that love 
are much the same in bond or free, in white or black. 

Eight or ten months passed on, when one night my 
brother Stephen, who lived on the Blue Ridge, near Master 
Mannyfield, came to see me, and, as we talked of many 
things, he spoke of Jerry in a way that instantly roused my 
suspicion. I said : " Tell me what is the matter ? I know 
there is something. Is Jerry dead ? Is he sold ? Tell me 
what it is." I saw he dreaded to speak, and that frightened 
me the more. 

At last, he said : " 'Tis no use, Betty. You have got to 
know it. Old Look-a-here's people are all in jail for debt." 
" Old Look-a-here " was the nickname by which Manny- 
field was known by the colored people far and near, because 
he had a way of saying, when he was about to whip one of 
his slaves, "Now look-a-here, you black rascal," or "you 
black wench." 

The next day was Saturday, and I hurried to complete my 
task in the corn-field, and then asked my master if I could go 
to see Jerry. He objected at first, but at last gave me a 
pass to see my brother, and be gone until Monday morning. 

The sun might have been two hours high when I started ; 
but, before I was half over the mountain, night had closed 
round me its deepest gloom. The vivid flashes of lightning 
made the carriage path plain at times, and then I could not 
see a step before me ; and the rolling thunder added to my 
fear and dread. I was dripping wet when, about nine 
o'clock, I reached the house. It had been my plan to get 
Stephen to go on with me to Jerry's mother's, and stay the 

20 aunt betty's story 

night there ; but his mistress, who was sister to my Miss 
Lucy, declared we must not go on in the storm, and, giving 
me supper, brought bedding, that I might lie on the kitchen 
floor and rest me there. In the morning, after a good 
breakfast, she started us off, with a bag of biscuits to eat by 
the way. Jerry's mother was glad to go with us; and we 
hurried along to Jerry, in jail at Little Washington, where 
he with his fellow-slaves was confined, like sheep or oxen, 
shut up in stalls, to be sold to pay their owner's debts. 

Jerry saw us, as we came along the road, through the prison 
bars ; and the jailer allowed us to talk together there, not, 
however, without a witness to all we might say. We had 
committed no offence against God or man. Jerry had not ; 
and yet, like base criminals, we were denied even the con- 
solation of privacy. This was a necessary part of the system 
of American slavery. Neither wife nor mother could inter- 
vene to soften its rigors one jot. 

Several months passed, and Mannyfield was still unable to 
redeem his property ; and they were at last put up at auction, 
and sold to the highest bidder. Frank White, a slave-trader, 
bought the entire lot, and proceeded at once to make up a 
gang for the Southern market. 

Arrangements were made to start Friday morning; and 
on Thursday afternoon, chained together, the gang were 
taken across the stream, and encamped on its banks. White 
then went to Jerry, and, taking the handcuffs from his 
wrists, told him to go and stay the night with his wife, and 
see if he could persuade her to go with him. If he could, he 
would buy her, and so they need not be separated. He 
would pass that way in the morning, and see. Of course, 
Jerry was only too glad to come ; and, at first, I thought I 
would go with him. Then came the consciousness that this 


inducement was only a sham, and that, once exposed for 
sale in a Southern market, the bidder with the largest sum 
of money would be our purchaser singly quite as surely as 
together ; and, if separated, what would I do in a strange 
land ? No : I would not go. It was far better for me to stay 
where, for miles and miles, I knew every one, and every one 
knew me. Then came the wish to secrete ourselves together 
in the mountains, or elsewhere, till White should be gone ; 
but, to do this, detection was sure. Then we remembered 
that White had trusted us, in letting him come to me, and 
we felt ashamed, for a moment, as if we had tried to cheat ; 
but what right had White to carry him away, or even to 
own him at all ? Our poor, ignorant reasoning found it hard 
to understand his rights or our own ; and we at last decided 
that, as soon as it was light, Jerry should take to the moun- 
tains, and, when White was surely gone, either I would join 
him there, and we would make for the North together, or he 
would come back, go to White's mother, who lived a few 
miles distant, and tell her he would work for her and obey 
her, but he would never go South to be worked to death in 
the rice-swamps or cotton-fields. 

We talked late into the night ; and at last, in the silence 
and dread, worn out with sorrow and fear, my head on his 
shoulder, we both dropped asleep. 

Daylight was upon us when we waked. The sad con- 
sciousness of our condition, and our utter helplessness, over- 
powered us. I opened the door, and there was my mistress, 
with pail in hand, going to the spring for water. "Oh, 
what shall I do ? Where shall I go ? " cried Jerry, as he saw 
her. " Have no fear," I said. " Go right along. I know 
mistress will never betray you." And, with a bound, he 
was over the fence, into the fields, and off to the mountains. 


In a very short time, White and his poor, doomed com- 
pany came along, and called for Jerry. I had taken my pail 
to milk the cows ; and, seeing me, he sung out, " Woman, 
where is Jerry, I say ? " " I don't know where Jerry is," I 
answered. Then, turning to Kibbler, who, hearing the out- 
cry, now came out, he said, " You told me that woman 
wouldn't lie ; and you know well enough she is lying now, 

when she says she don't know where that rascal is." 

Kibbler answered very slowly and thoughtfully, " I never 
knowed her to lie ; but may be this time, — may be this 
time." White then turned to me, and said, " I took off his 
handcuffs, and let him go to you, and you had no business 
to serve me so." 

It was true I did not know where Jerry was at that time. 
We had agreed that we would meet that night near the 
blacksmith's old shop, on the other side of the run ; and 
that was all I knew of his whereabouts, though he had not 
been gone long enough to be far away. It was true he had 
trusted us, and I felt very badly ; but what else could we 
have done ? Kind reader, what think you ? 

I then told him that Jerry had said he was willing to work, 
and would go to his mother's and serve her, but never, if 
he could help it, would he be carried South. 

Then White tried to bargain with Kibbler for my pur- 
chase, saying he would give any price he should name for 
me, because he knew I would then find Jerry. But it was 
no use. Kibbler had a kind spot in his heart, and would not 
consent to let me go. So the slave-trader moved on with 
his human, cattle. 

Five miles on the road lived David McCoy, another slave- 
trader. When White reached his house, it was agreed by 
them that, if McCoy could find Jerry within two days, he 
should bring him on, and they would meet at Stanton, Va. 



The place where I was to meet Jerry was, as I have said, 
across the run, in a corn-field, near the blacksmith's shop, 
the time Friday night. 

It had rained hard all day, and the stream was swollen, 
and pouring and rushing at a fearful rate. I waited till 
everybody was in bed and asleep, when I lighted my pine 
knot, and started for the Pass. It was still raining, and the 
night was very dark. Only by my torch could I see a step 
before me ; and, when I attempted to wade in, as I did in 
many different places, I found it was no use. I should surely 
be drowned if I persisted. So, disappointed and grieved, I 
gave up and went home. The next morning I was able to 
get over on horseback to milk the cows, but I neither heard 
nor saw anything of Jerry. 

Saturday night came. I knew well that, if not caught by 
White, Jerry would be round. At last, every one was. in 
bed, and all was still. I waited and listened. I listened 
and waited. Then I heard his step at the door. I hurriedly 
opened it, and he came in. His clothes were still damp 
and stiff from the rain of yesterday. He was frightened and 
uneasy. He had been hiding around in different places, con- 
stantly fearing detection. He had seen me from behind the 
old blacksmith's shop when I had tried the night before, 
with my pine knot, to ford the stream ; and he was glad, he 
said, when he saw me go back, for he knew I should be car- 

24 aunt betty's story 

ried down by the current and be drowned, if I had persisted. 
I went to my mistress's bedroom, and asked her if I might 
go to the cellar. She knew at once what I meant, and whis- 
pered softly, " Betty, has Jerry come ? " then, without wait- 
ing for reply, added, "get him some milk and light bread 
and butter." I was not long in doing so ; and the poor fel- 
low ate like one famishing. Then he wanted to know all 
that had happened, and what White had said when he found 
he was gone. We talked a long time, and tried to devise 
some plans for our mutual safety and possible escape from 
slavery altogether ; but, every way we looked, the path was 
beset with danger and exposure. We were both utterly dis- 
heartened. But sleep came at last and, for the time being, 
relieved us of our fears. 

In the morning, which was Sunday, we had our breakfast 
together, and, as the hours passed, began to feel a little com- 
forted. After dinner, we walked out to the field and strolled 
about for some time ; and, when ready to go back to the 
house, we each took an armful of fodder along for the horses. 
As we laid it down and turned to go into the house, David 
McCoy rode up on horseback. He saw Jerry at once, and 
called him to come to the fence. The excitement of the last 
days — the fasting and the fear — had completely cowed and 
broken whatever of manhood, or even of brute courage, a 
slave might by any possibility be presumed at any time to 
be possessed of, and the last remains of these qualities in 
poor Jerry were gone. He mutely obeyed ; and when, with 
an oath, McCoy commanded him to mount the horse behind 
him, he mutely seated himself there. McCoy then called to 
me to go to the house and bring Jerry's clothes. " Never," 
— I screamed back to him, — " never, not to save your mis- 
erable life." But Jerry said : " O Betty, 'tis no use. We 

aunt betty's story 25 

can't help it." I knew this was so. I stifled my anger and 
my grief, brought his little bundle, into which I tucked a 
testament and catechism some one had given me, and shook 
hands " good-by " with him. So we parted forever, in this 




Several months passed, and I became a mother. 

My dear white lady, in your pleasant home made joyous 
by the tender love of husband and children all your own, 
you can never understand the slave mother's emotions as 
she clasps her new-born child, and knows that a master's 
word can at any moment take it from her embrace ; and 
when, as was mine, that child is a girl, and from her own 
experience she sees its almost certain doom is to minister to 
the unbridled lust of the slave-owner, and feels that the law 
holds over her no protecting arm, it is not strange that, 
rude and uncultured as I was, I felt all this, and would have 
been glad if we could have died together there and then. 

Master Kibbler was still hard and cruel, and I was in con- 
stant trouble. Miss Lucy was kind as ever, and it grieved 
her to see me unhappy. At last, she told me that perhaps, 
if I should have some other home and some other master, 
I should not be so wretched, and, if I chose, I might look 
about and see what I could do. I soon heard that John 
Prince, at Luray, was wanting to buy a woman. Miss Lucy 
told me, if it was agreeable to me, I might go to him and 
work for a fortnight, and if at the end of that time he 
wanted me, and I chose to stay, she would arrange terms 
with him ; but, if I did not want to stay, not to believe 
anything that any one might tell me, but come back at 
once to her. 

aunt betty's story 27 

At the end of two weeks, Master John said he was going 
over to have a talk with Miss Lucy ; and did I think, if he 
should conclude to buy me, that I should steal from him ? 
I answered that, if I worked for him, I ought to expect him 
to give me enough to eat, and then I should have no need to 
steal. "You wouldn't want me to go over yonder, into the 
garden of another man, and steal his chickens, when I am 
working for you, would you, Master John ? I expect, of 
course, you will give me enough to eat and to wear, and 
then I shall have no reason to steal from anybody." He 
seemed satisfied and pleased, and bargained with Miss Lucy, 
both for me and my little girl. Both master and Mrs. 
Prince were kind and pleasant to me, and my little Charlotte 
played with the little Princes, and had a good time. I 
worked very hard, but I was strong and well, and willing to 
work ; and for several years there was little to interrupt 
this state of things. 

At last, I can't say how long, I was told that John O'Neile, 
the jailer, had bought me ; and he soon took me to his home, 
which was in one part of the jail. He, however, was not the 
real purchaser. This was David McCoy, the same who had 
grabbed Jerry on that fatal morning ; and he had bought me 
with the idea of taking me to Richmond, thinking he could 
make a speculation on me. I was well known in all the 
parts around as a faithful, hard-working woman, when well 
treated, but ugly and wilful, if abused beyond a certain 
point. McCoy had bought me away from my child ; and 
now, he thought, he could sell me, if carried to Richmond, 
at a good advantage. I did not think so ; and I determined, 
if possible, to disappoint him. 

The night after being taken in charge by John O'Neile, as 
soon as I was sure everybody was asleep, I got up and 

28 aunt betty's story 

crawled out of the house, and went to my old Methodist 
friend, Jerry Kibbler. I knew the way into his back door ; 
and, though I presumed he would be asleep, I was sure he 
would willingly get up and hear what I had to say. I was 
not mistaken. He heard my voice inquiring for him, and in 
a very few minutes dressed himself, and came out, and in his 
pleasant, kind manner said : "Aunt Betty, what is the mat- 
ter ? What can I do for you ? " I told him McCoy had 
bought me, away from my child, and was going to send me 
to Richmond. I coulditt go there. Wouldn't he buy me ? 
I saw he felt very badly ; but what, he said, could he do with 
me? He didn't believe in buying slaves, — and, finally, he 
hadn't "money enough to do it." I begged so hard that he 
said he would see what he could do, and I went back to the 
jail. Mrs. O'Neile had discovered my absence, and was on 
the watch for me. The next day, she told me I was to start 
for Richmond the day after, and it was no use for me to 
make a fuss, so I might as well bring my mind to it first as 

The day was almost gone, and I had had no word from Mr. 
Jerry. As it was growing dark, I saw a colored man whom I 
knew, and I managed to make him see, through the jail win- 
dows, that I wanted to speak with him. I induced him to 
find Master Jerry; but he came back with word from him that 
he had seen both O'Neile and McCoy, and could make no 
kind of an arrangement with them. He had not come to me, 
because he felt so sorry for me, and had waited, in the hope 
that some one else would tell me. So there seemed noth- 
ing else before me ; and when, on the next morning, Mrs. 
O'Neile told me to make myself ready for the journey, I tried 
to be submissive, and dressed myself in a new calico dress 
that Miss Lucy had given me long before. 

aunt betty's story 29 

I had never in my life felt so sad and so completely for- 
saken. I thought my heart was really breaking. Mr. 
O'Neile called me; and, as I passed out of the door, I heard 
Jackoline, the jailer's daughter, singing in a loud, clear 
voice, — 

" When through the deep waters I call thee to go, 
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow ; 
For I will be with thee, and cause thee to stand, 
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand." 

I can never forget the impression these words and the 
music and the tones of Jackoline's voice made upon me. It 
seemed to me as if they all came directly out of heaven. It 
was my Saviour speaking directly to me. Was not / passing 
the deep waters ? What rivers of woe could be sorer than 
these through which I was passing ? Would not this right- 
eous, omnipotent hand uphold me and help me ? Yes, here 
was His word for it. I would trust it ; and I was comforted. 

We mounted the stage, and were off for Charlotteville, 
where we stopped over night, and took the cars next morn- 
ing for Richmond. 

Arrived in Richmond, we were again shut up in jail, all 
around which was a very high fence, so high that no com- 
munication with the outside world was possible. I say we, 
for there was a young slave girl whom McCoy had taken 
with me to the Richmond market. The next day, as the 
hour for the auction drew near, Jailer O'Neile came to us, 
with a man, whom he told to take us along to the dressmaker 
and to charge her to "fix us up fine." This dressmaker was 
a most disagreeable woman, whose business it was to array 
such poor creatures as we in the gaudiest and most striking 
attire conceivable, that, when placed upon the auction stand, 
we should attract the attention of all present, if not in one 

30 aunt betty's story 

way, why, in another. She put a white muslin apron on me, 
and a large cape, with great pink bows on each shoulder, 
and a similar rig also on Eliza. Thus equipped, we were led 
through a crowd of rude men and boys to the place of sale, 
which was a large open space on a prominent square, under 

I had been told by an old negro woman certain tricks that 
I could resort to, when placed upon the stand, that would be 
likely to hinder my sale ; and when the doctor, who was 
employed to examine the slaves on such occasions, told me 
to let him see my tongue, he found it coated and feverish, 
and, turning from me with a shiver of disgust, said he was 
obliged to admit that at that moment I was in a very bilious 
condition. One after another of the crowd felt of my limbs, 
asked me all manner of questions, to which I replied in the 
ugliest manner I dared ; and when the auctioneer raised his 
hammer, and cried, " How much do I hear for this woman ? " 
the bids were so low I was ordered down from the stand, and 
Eliza was called up in my place. Poor thing! there were 
many eager bids for her ; for, for such as she, the demands of 
slavery were insatiable. 



I was now taken back to Luray ; and, though McCoy was 
greatly disappointed at the result of his Richmond venture, 
he was wise enough to make the best of it. Mrs. McCoy 
took a fancy to keep me ; and, as she had not work enough 
to employ all my time, I found I could earn in the neighbor- 
hood enough money to carry home a large interest on my 
cost. After a while, McCoy agreed that, if I should bring 
him one dollar and a half every Saturday night, he would 
be satisfied, and I could do what I pleased with myself. 

I washed blankets and bed-quilts, as well as weekly wash- 
ings. I cleaned house, and worked in the fields, getting a 
job whenever I could find it and whatever it might be. I 
was near my child, where I could see her often ; and I was 
comparatively happy. 

After a time, master took a job of work on the pike, de- 
signing to work it with free negroes, whom he could hire for 
a small sum, and board them. He took me out there to 
cook for them. It gratified me to know that he placed con- 
fidence enough in me to do this ; and I did my best to 
deserve it. The negroes were a rude set, as might be 
expected ; for at that time they were the one class despised 
by everybody. They were despised by the master-class, 
because they could not subject them to their will quite in 


the same way as if they were slaves, and despised by the 
slave-class, because envied as possessing a nominal freedom, 
which they were denied. Thus are contempt and envy 
closely allied. 

Sometimes, one or another of these men would be insult- 
ing to me, and impose upon me ; but there was always one 
of their number who at such times would come to my rescue. 
He would often bring water from the spring for me, and in 
many kind ways caused me to regard him with a different 
feeling from any one I had met since I had lost my poor 
Jerry. This man was Frank Veney, afterwards my second 

I remember telling Master McCoy that, with such a hungry 
set of fellows to feed, I couldn't see how he could make any 
money out of that job, so much bread and meat must cost so 
much. He laughed very heartily, and, as I could see, very 
approvingly, and said, " Oh, yes, Betty, I know it costs a 
heap ; but I have reckoned that all up, and I know how it is 
coming out." It pleased him well to see that I thought of 
his interest ; and I think he saw in it, too, that I might have 
some business tact myself. When the work on this pike was 
finished, my master took other similar jobs elsewhere, and I 
had many changes during three or four years. At last, we 
got back to Luray, and master agreed with me that I should 
pay him thirty dollars per year for my time, and whatever I 
earned above that should be my own. 

I rented of John Prince a little house at Dry Run, just at 
the foot of the mountain, and with my little boy Joe, now 
about two years old, lived very contentedly. 



The spur of the Blue Ridge, against which my little 
house leaned, was called " Stony Man " ; and it was supposed 
to be full of copper. Some time ago, some Northern advent- 
urers had set up an engine, in order to mine the copper and 
test its quality. But, for reasons which I had never under- 
stood, the project was abandoned and the men went home. 
They had built a small shanty on the ground, and I had lived 
with them to do their work. It had been a dreary experience 
to me, and I was thankful when it was over. It was not, 
therefore, a pleasant circumstance to me when Lorenze 
Prince called at my door, and told me he had come to see if 
I would go up Stony Man again, to keep house for two 
Northern gentlemen, who had just arrived in Luray, and 
were going to start up the old engine, and see what they 
could make of the copper. I answered him hastily that he 
needn't ask me, for I wouldn't go to that lonesome place 
again for love or money. Lorenze thought I was very 
foolish, for he had seen them, and knew they were nice 
gentlemen ; and, besides, they would pay me a dollar and a 
half a week, sure pay. I at last agreed he might tell them 
that I would be up there the next morning, and would get 


their dinner for them, and then I would decide about staying 

My little home seemed pleasanter to me than ever that 
night, when I thought of leaving it. I was enjoying a good 
degree of freedom there. I could go out and come in as I 
pleased ; and for a good distance about the country, with 
Master McCoy's pass in my bosom, I was safe to a certain 
extent. It never once occurred to me that this change might 
lead up to the end I had so long desired ; namely, a life where 
I should need no pass written by a human hand to insure my 
safety as I went from place to place, but where the stamp of 
my humanity, imprinted by the Infinite Father of all, should 
be an all-sufficient guarantee in every emergency. I have 
repeated to myself many times since, when I have thought 
over those times, 

" God moves in a mysterious way 
His wonders to perform." 

And it is with deep and loving gratitude I refer every bless- 
ing to him. 

Mr. G. J. Adams and Mr. J. Butterworth were the two 
gentlemen from Providence, R.I. The next morning, as I 
neared the engine-house, Mr. Butterworth saw me, and came 
forward to speak with me. His manner of speaking was 
gentle and kind. He told me to go to the house ; and Mr. 
Adams, who was now at the village, would be back soon, and 
would arrange with me. 

It did not seem lonesome, as I had imagined ; and I set 
myself to work at once, pulling up the weeds that had over- 
grown everything and everywhere. 

It was not long before Mr. Adams came, and we were 
soon acquainted ; and I felt contented and at home there. 


My boy was happy, as was I. Several months passed, I do 
not remember how many, when it became necessary for 
both Mr. Adams and Mr. Butterworth to go home for a 
time ; and they paid me in advance to remain where I was 
while they should be gone. At last they returned, and 
things went on as before until one night I was down at the 
village, in old Mr. Aulman's store, and he asked me "how 
many niggers that could work had Master McCoy ? " The 
question was like a sword cutting me in two, or like a sud- 
den flash of lightning striking me to the ground. I knew 
well there was trouble ahead, and that, for McCoy's debts, I 
might at any moment be sold away from my boy, as I had 
been before from my girl. I determined this should never 
be. I would take my child and hide in the mountains. I 
would do anything sooner than I would be sold. 

A few days passed, and my worst fears were confirmed by 
Isaac Prince, who told me that all McCoy's property was 
posted to be sold. The next day, as I was planning how I 
could get off, I saw a white horse, and a man standing at 
the smelting-mill. The man was busily talking with Mr. 
Adams, and both seemed very earnest. At last, the man 
mounted the horse and rode away, while Mr. Adams came 
into the house. He said it was true that McCoy's property 
had been attached, to pay his debts, incurred by gambling, 
and everything would go under the auctioneer's hammer. 
" I won't be sold. He shall never find me, to sell me again," 
I angrily cried. Mr. Adams looked at me, and I saw the 
great pity in his eyes. He said, "Betty, I have given my 
word in writing to this man, whom you saw, that, provided 
he will leave you here with us, instead of taking you to the 
jail, he shall find you here whenever he shall come for you." 
I felt the floor giving way under me. It was with difficulty 

36 aunt bettt's story 

I kept from falling. A few moments of deep agony passed, 
and then I was able to say to him that, since he had pledged 
his word in black and white, he should not be obliged to 
break it. He need not fear for me, for I would stay just as 
he had promised ; but " I was, oh ! so sorry he had prom- 

I cannot tell now in what way it was first suggested that 
Mr. Adams should buy me and take me North with him. I 
think, when he was home, he had talked with his wife and 
her sister, Miss Sarah Brown, about such a possibility, and 
Miss Sarah had offered to advance a part of the price for 
which I might be purchased. 

However that might have been, Mr. Adams now saw Mr. 
McCoy, and found he was greatly pressed for money, and 
would sell me as readily to him as to any one ; and, not to 
spend too much time over what was really a very simple 
business transaction, a bill of sale was at once made out to 
Mr. Adams, which reads as follows : — 

Received of G. J. Adams seven hundred and seventy-five dollars 
($775), it being the purchase of my negro woman Berthena and her child 
Joe. The right and title to the said negro woman I warrant and de- 
fend against any person or persons whatsoever. 

Given under my hand and seal the 27th day of December, 1858. 
[Seal.] David McCoy. 

Benj. F. Grayson. 

Not long afterward, — I forget how long, — Messrs. Adams 
and Butterworth suspended operations at the mine, and, 
taking me and my boy, turned their faces homeward. They 
at that time expected to return, after a few months, and prom- 
ised me I should go with them, so I did not feel so badly at 
parting with all the old faces and places as I should other- 

aunt betty's story 37 

wise have done. However, before their business arrange- 
ments for going were matured, John Brown had made his 
invasion into Virginia ; and the excitement that followed 
made it unsafe for any one who sympathized with or de- 
fended him to be seen in any Southern State. 

Thenrfollowed the War of the Rebellion ; and it was not 
till a much later date, and in a different way from what I had 
anticipated when I left, that I saw again the old fields where 
I had toiled and suffered, and grasped again the hands that 
before had beaten and bruised me. 



The feelings with which I entered my Northern home, 22 
Chares-Field Street, Providence, R.I., on a bright pleasant 
morning in August, 1858, can be more easily fancied than 
described. A new life had come to me. I was in a land 
where, by its laws, I had the same right to myself that any 
other woman had. No jailer could take me to prison, and 
sell me at auction to the highest bidder. My boy was my 
own, and no one could take him from me. But I had left 
behind me every one I had ever known. I did not forget 
the dreadful hardships I had endured, and yet somehow I 
did not think of them with half the bitterness with which I 
had endured them. I was a stranger in a strange land ; 
and it was no wonder, perhaps, that a dreadful loneliness 
and homesickness came over me. 

The family were just rising when Mr. Adams, with his 
night-key, opened the door, and showed me the way to the 
sitting-room, and then went to find his wife. I had only a 
moment to look about me, when the girl from the kitchen 
came in, and in a very friendly manner asked me to go 
there with her. Then, in a few minutes more, Mrs. Adams 
came, and, in her smiling, motherly way, held out her hand 
to me, saying, " Good-morning, Betty." She met me as if I 

aunt betty's story 39 

were an old acquaintance. At any rate, she made me feel 
that I was with friends. 

It was not easy at first to accommodate myself to the new 
surroundings. In the Southern kitchen, under slave rule, 
there was little thought of convenience or economy. Here 
I found all sorts of Yankee inventions and improvements to 
make work easy and pleasant. There were dishes and pans 
of every description, clean and distinct cloths for all pur- 
poses, brushes and brooms for different uses. I couldn't 
help feeling bewildered sometimes at the difference in so 
many ways, and for a moment wished myself back in " old 
Virginny," with my own people; and I very, very often 
longed to see the old familiar faces and hear the old sounds, ' 
but never could I forget to be grateful for my escape from 
a system under which I had suffered so much. 





For a while after my coming North, I was able to hear 
occasionally from the old home ; but, after the trouble over 
John Brown, followed as it was by the war for Secession, all 
communication was at an end. 

In the mean time, I made acquaintance among both white 
and colored people, who were interested in my history and 
glad to help me. 

I had been here only about three months, when my little 
Joe sickened and died ; and this was a great affliction to me. 

After this, Mr. Adams removed his family to Worcester, 
Mass. ; and I went with them. From business considera- 
tions, his stay there was shortened ; and he returned to 
Providence. I liked the friends I had made in Worcester, 
and decided to cast in my lot with them. I had joined the 
Park Street Methodist Church, and was treated with such 
kind consideration by the brothers and sisters there that I 
was at home with them ; and, as I could find all the work 
I was able to do, I was very comfortable in many ways. 

When at last the war was over, my wish to go back revived. 

I had saved some money ; and, as soon as it was deemed safe 
by my friends, I undertook the journey. I purchased my 


tickets, taking me to Culpepper Court House, via railroad ; 
and all passed off well. Arriving there, I found the stage 
would not leave for Luray for four hours. I really did not 
see how I could wait so long. I, however, went over to the 
stable, and, seeing a colored man there grooming the horses, 
I asked him how things were getting on down there. He 
saw I was a stranger ; and, as one in haste to impart good 
news, he quickly answered : " Oh, all's free here now. De 
colored peoples has free times 'bout here now, de war's ober." 
His face and eyes fairly shone with delight. I turned into a 
store near by, and bought a large watermelon, and asked him 
to come and eat it with me, by way of celebrating "de free 
times." As we ate, we saw an old colored man and woman 
coming along the road ; and, when they reached us, I said : 
" O aunty, you look happy. How are the times going with 
you ?" She repeated : " How's times ? Why, de ole man an' 
me just dun got married las' night, an' we're takin' our 
weddin' journey." They ate watermelon with us, and we all 
laughed together over the new times, that made it possible 
for this woman, whose many children had enriched her 
master's treasury, lo ! these many years, now to realize in 
any degree the sanctity of a marriage relation and a wedding 

I did not wait for the stage to take me on my journey, for 
I was too eager to reach the end. I engaged a colored boy 
to take my satchel, to whom I was proud to pay one dollar in 
advance ; and we started on foot for the top of the mountain, 
over which my course lay. Remaining there over night, I 
pursued my way on the next day, reaching Luray before 
night. The country everywhere had been laid waste by 
the soldiers of both armies ; but, as there had been no battle 
fought in the immediate neighborhood, things were not so 


much changed as I had expected. I found my daughter 
Charlotte grown to womanhood, married, and had one child. 
My old masters, Kibbler, Prince, and McCoy, expressed 
pleasure at seeing me, and had many questions to ask of 
people and things at the North. My dear, kind old mistress, 
Miss Lucy, had been paralyzed ; and her face was drawn on 
one side, which greatly changed her. She was delighted 
with a pair of cloth shoes that I carried to her. 

After visiting about for six or seven weeks, I turned my 
face again to the North, my daughter, her husband and child, 
coming with me. 

Three times since I have made the same journey, bringing 
back with me, from time to time, in all sixteen of my rela- 
tives, and have encountered many interesting incidents. I 
have always found some one — sometimes a policeman, and 
sometimes a simple woman or boy — ready and willing to 
help me in every emergency, when I had need. I have 
great reason to speak well of my fellow-men, and to be most 
thankful to the overruling Providence that brought me up 
out of the "house of bondage." 

I forget the exact date, but one day I was busy with my 
work at home, when a message came to me from Mrs. War- 
ner, asking me to come to her. I went at once; and, on 
being shown into her presence, I found her engaged in con- 
versation with my old master, David McCoy, — he who had 
taken Jerry away from me, and afterwards had sent me to 
Richmond to be sold. But all was changed now. He was 
not even Master McCoy. He was Mr. McKay. He put out 
his hand, and said, " How d'ye ? " not exactly, perhaps, as a 
reconstructed man, but as one who had at least learned some- 
thing from the " logic of events " of the difference in our 
relations to each other. After a friendly interchange of 


inquiry, he invited me to call on him at the Waverly House, 
where he was stopping. Accordingly, the next day I inquired 
at the Waverly House office for Mr. McKay, of Virginia, 
and a servant showed me to his room. He welcomed me 
very cordially this time ; and after a long talk, and I arose to 
come away, I asked him to dine with me the next day. He 
expressed much satisfaction, and at the appointed hour 
made his appearance. I prepared such a dinner as I thought 
he would enjoy, and was glad to find I had not been mistaken 
in my selections. 

On rising to go, he turned to me, and said : " Aunt Betty, 
when you came down South, you wore a nice pair of kid 
gloves, with fur round their wrists. Can you tell me where 
you bought them, and what they cost ? " I told him I would 
gladly go with him and try to find such ; but, as Dr. Warner 
gave mine to me, I did not know their price. So together 
we looked through the different stores, and at last succeeded 
in finding a pair that suited him ; and I had the pleasure of 
paying for them, and then presenting them to him, as a re- 
membrance of his visit to the North, as well as of me. I 
never saw him again, for it was not long after that he died. 
My old master, David Kibbler, died also. Jerry Kibbler, 
my good Methodist friend and class-leader, came to Worces- 
ter, and spent several days, boarding with my friend, Mrs. 
Stearns, during the time, because I could not then make 
him comfortable in my own home. I took him to Provi- 
dence to see Mr. Adams, who showed him much attention ; 
and he returned home with a very warm appreciation of 
New England hospitality, as well as of Northern thrift and 
energy, and regretted that the South had been so long blind 
to her own interests. 


My life in the North, as in the South, has been full of 
experiences, both sad and joyful. 

Sixteen years ago this winter, I was sent for to the dying 
bed of Mrs. Adams. A twelvemonth is scarcely passed since 
I was again called to assist in the care of Mr. Adams, as he 
lingered week after week, only half-conscious of life, and 
then passed away. His recognition of my poor service 
gladdens me now, for I can never express the satisfaction it 
gave me to minister to his wants. For I was a stranger, and 
he took me in : I had fallen amongst thieves, and he had 
rescued me. 

I have spoken of the kindness of my Methodist brothers 
and sisters. To tell the half of it would be impossible. One 
thing, however, I must not omit. It is this : on going to 
Sterling, last summer, to camp-meeting, I found on the spot 
where I had been accustomed to pitch my tent a nice 
wooden building, waiting for my occupation. The surprise 
was so great to me, I am afraid I did not express the grati- 
tude I really felt ; and this is only one of the many ways in 
which I have tasted the loving-kindness of my friends, and 
found it, like that of the infinite Father, " oh, how free ! " 

I am now, at seventy-four years of age, the owner and 
occupant of a small house at 21 Tufts Street, Worcester, 
Mass. My daughter and family are near me, in an adjoining 
house, also owned by me. I have three grandchildren living. 

My back is not so straight nor so strong, my sight is not 
so clear, nor my limbs so nimble as they once were ; but I 
am still ready and glad to do whatsoever my hand findeth to 
do, waiting only for the call to " come up higher." 

Bethany Veney. 
Worcester, Mass., 1889. 

Superintendent of Home for Little Wanderers, Boston, Mass. 

Two hundred years of human bondage! From generation to 
generation the vast system of tyranny, oppressing every faculty of 
mind and capability of moral nature, transmitting its baneful in- 
fluence from parent to child, and then, by its injustice, dishonesty, 
and utter disregard of all the most sacred relationships of life, 
stifling the earliest instincts and smothering the first breathings of 
the innate personality which distinguishes the race created in 
God's image, the wonder of wonders is that there was anything 
left of the nobility of a true manhood and womanhood in a single 
member of the oppressed and ravished race at the end of two 
hundred years. Whatever happened at the Fall of Adam and 
Eve, the strength of brain and heart that could withstand such 
treatment and retain in itself the fibre and life of noble aspira- 
tions, strength to stand for justice, truth, virtue, and courage of 
conviction, must have had something left in it both God-like and 
sublime. Such characters there were all through the South. 

Betty Veney was one of them. The story of her life speaks 
nobly for herself, sublimely for human nature, grandly for her 
race. Amid dishonesty she was honest, amid injustice she had 
the soul of honor, amid corruption she was pure, amid persecu- 
tions dauntless and patient. I see her industrious, beautiful, 
heroically suffering life, against the white man's lecherous greed, 
against slavery's oppression, as a natural development amid rank 
and noxious weeds fed and watered by the grace of God, as lilies 
are which lie in virgin purity on the bosom of fetid waters in dank 


We can never undo the past wrong ; but wherever a colored 
hand, worn out with honest labor, which has never been requited, 
is stretched out palm up in the midst of Christian plenty, its silent 
appeal is more pathetic than any language. It seems to come 
from the body of the race, to bear in its lines the sad story, not 
of one person, but of the millions buried and forgotten in their 
unmarked graves. It would be the simplest act of justice to pen- 
sion all the remaining slaves. The cotton-fields and rice-swamps 
of the South would seem then to be yielding the peaceable fruits 
of righteousness. It would then appear to all mankind that our 
religion had awakened our seared Christian conscience to the 
sense of the wrongs done this people. 

Dear Aunt Betty! Her race is nearly run. Her sun goes down 
the sky. How broad the chart from horizon to horizon ! Long 
years of trouble, toil, self-sacrifice, and suffering ! May thy sun- 
set be the sun-rising of a cloudless day, where justice shall com 
pensate thee and thine, and thy independent free spirit, equal to 
the angels', enjoy forever the freedom of the sons of God ! 

Your former pastor and wife, 

V. A. and Elizabeth Cooper. 


For twenty-five years, I have been acquainted with the subject 
of the foregoing pages. I know her to be a woman of strict integ- 
rity of character, good judgment, full of sympathy, and ever ready 
to do all in her power to relieve the sick and suffering. Born in 
slavery, and freed from her master by the kindness of a friend, she 
has yet more whereof to glory in that she has been freed from the 
bondage of sin, and made an heir of God and a joint-heir with 
Christ. If I am ever so happy as to get to heaven, I shall feel 
myself honored if I can have a seat so near the throne as Betty 

Rev. Erastus Spaulding. 

Millbury, Feb. 5,